A prominent player in the Virginia Democratic Party is calling on lawmakers to defund the police and divert taxpayer funding to pay for abortions.
Virginia’s NARAL chapter embraced the defund the police movement on Tuesday. The group urged lawmakers to cut off law enforcement and redirect "taxes to go towards helping our communities instead of harming them."
— NARAL Pro-Choice VA (@NARALVirginia) September 28, 2021
NARAL's support for defunding the police could put Democrats in electoral trouble. The abortion giant is flexing its political muscles in Virginia to elect Terry McAuliffe for governor, Hala Ayala for lieutenant governor, and nine down-ballot Democrats. NARAL's Virginia branch donated tens of thousands of dollars to McAuliffe during his first campaign for governor. It donated $1,000 to Ayala in June, and its national branch has donated thousands of dollars to state attorney general Mark Herring.
McAuliffe, Ayala, and Herring did not respond to requests for comment.
McAuliffe has made his support for abortion a centerpiece of his campaign. He pledged to support NARAL-backed legislation if elected. In 2019, Virginia delegate Kathy Tran introduced a bill that would allow for abortion up until the moment of birth, as well as taxpayer funding for the procedure. In a Sept. 16 debate, McAuliffe was asked directly if he would sign a bill like Tran's. "Of course I would support that," he said.
NARAL—which endorsed McAuliffe in his 2013 gubernatorial campaign—backed defunding the police even before the Virginia chapter spoke out. The national organization, which has spent millions of dollars to elect Democrats, endorsed the defund movement in April and June. The group endorsed McAuliffe again in July.
At least one Virginia Democrat has repudiated NARAL for its position on law enforcement. Michelle Maldonado, a Democrat running for an open state House seat, disavowed the pro-choice group following the Tuesday tweet. "Today, I am declining the endorsement of NARAL Virginia," she wrote. "While I do align with NARAL Virginia on the issue of choice, I do not align with their position on defunding the police. For years, I’ve worked professionally with law enforcement and I am proud of that work." Virginia's NARAL chapter did not respond to a request for comment.
Maldonado’s move comes at a precarious time for Virginia Democrats and could force a late-term reckoning by the party on issues such as defunding the police. After Democrats nearly lost the House of Representatives in 2020, some–like Virginia congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, a NARAL candidate herself–blamed the party’s embrace of defunding the police for its poor down-ballot showing.
Early voting has started for this November's elections in Virginia, and early indicators have given Republicans a rare lead among in-person early voters.